Everyone gets angry – it’s a natural human behaviour.
But when anger manifests in an aggressive way, scaring others, your children, or even yourself, you may need support in learning to control it.
Take a look at our tips below to get more control of your emotions.
Learn your early signs
If you find yourself surprised when you suddenly reach your boiling point, you may need to spend some time reflecting on your emotions on the run up to you losing your temper.
By tracking your triggers, you’ll be able to act on controlling your anger before you explode by identifying the emotions in the lead up. If the same thing sets you off frequently, is it something you can address once you’re calm, or remove it from your life completely?
It’s hard to spot your triggers in the moment, so keeping a journal can help here. At the end of every day, look back at the times you lost your temper and try to identify what set you off. You can then work on removing these triggers from your life or working towards accepting them for what they are.
Reducing the general level of stress and anxiety in your life can be a very effective form of anger management. Instead of being coming into situations from a place of stress, you’re starting from a calm place instead.
Activities such as walking or running (did you know exercising produces a ‘happy hormone’?), mindfulness practices and massages are simple ways you can help to increase the amount of calm in your life. Make sure to carve out time to spend doing whatever it is that relaxes you.
And for more tips on reducing stress and worry in your life, read our article on the five ways to bring more calm into your life.
Avoid these phrases
There are certain words and phrases that are almost certain to start an argument and stop you from letting go of the injustice or blame you’re feeling.
In its guidance on controlling anger, the NHS recommends you avoid saying:
- always (for example, “you always do that”)
- never (“you never listen to me”)
- should or shouldn’t (“you should do what I want” or “you shouldn’t be on the roads”)
- must or mustn’t (“I must be on time” or “I mustn’t be late”)
- ought or oughtn’t (“people ought to get out of my way”)
- not fair (“it’s not fair that we always do what you want to do”)
This is another bit of advice that’s hard to follow in the moment. However, it’s well worth keeping a list of these words handy and try and avoid using them during heated discussions, as it could easily make them boil over into a full-blown argument.
Look for validation
Once you’re in the depths of your anger, buy yourself some time by stepping away or slowly counting to 10. Then, ask yourself if your anger is valid. Is it reasonable to think this way? Would you agree with your thoughts if you were an outsider looking in?
This process follows a similar trail of thought as problem-solving. By following a series of self-investigatory questions, you can delve into your anger and rationally take it apart.
Keep in mind that your history can have a big influence on your reactions. For example, if you’ve had a row over a parking space in the past, you’re likely to already feel heated if someone does even the slightest thing you deem unfair in a car parking situation.
By questioning if it’s really all that bad you can reduce your anger, as more often than not you’ll find the situation isn’t worth losing your temper over.
We mentioned it briefly above, but removing yourself from the situation that is causing you to get angry is very valuable. Not only does it allow you to hit the brake pedal on your anger increasing, it gives you time to practice mindfulness, calming yourself back down. It also gives you time to dissect your emotions and behaviour, allowing you to go back into it more rationally.
Be aware that if you’re in a confrontation, walking away without even a brief explanation – an “I need a few minutes to myself” will suffice – could make the situation worse.
Handle conflict appropriately
Taking a time out also gives you space to consider what you’re going to say in advance. Think through your feelings and try to express your emotions without allowing them to control the situation.
When it comes time to return to the situation, try to articulate your thoughts in a way the other person will understand. Take time to consider what they’re saying, respecting their own emotions in a way you’d expect them to respect yours.
Anger is a very tricky emotion – it takes a lot of self-control to manage it by yourself.
If you struggle to follow these tips on your own, ask for help.
If you have a trusted friend or family member (not the one you’re angry with!) that you can offload your feelings to, please take advantage of that. Counselling can also be a huge help to anyone who feels like their temper gets the best of them sometimes. We’re here to support you in a safe manner without judgement, so get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you with your anger issues.